Would you please comment on the death penalty?
The death penalty is a degrading proof of man’s inhumanity to man. It shows that man is still living in the barbarous age. Civilization still remains an idea – it has not become a reality.
The death penalty is so idiotic that you will have to look from all the aspects to understand why such an idiotic thing has continued in all the civilizations, cultures, nations. Even in a few countries where it was dropped it has been adopted again. In a few other countries where it has been dropped, it has been replaced by life imprisonment – which is worse than the death penalty itself. It is better to die in a single moment than to go on dying slowly for fifty years, sixty years.
Changing from the death penalty to a life sentence is going not towards civilization, it is going still deeper into barbarous, inhuman darkness, unconsciousness.
The first thing to remember is that the death penalty is not really a punishment. If you cannot give life as a reward, you cannot give death as a penalty. This is a simple logic, there cannot be two opinions about it. If you cannot give life to people, what right have you to take their life?
I am reminded of a true story. It happened that two criminals were in search of a treasure that was hidden in a castle. Many people had tried but had not found the way; somehow these criminals stumbled upon the treasure. The treasure was so vast that one of the two was not willing to divide it. The only way was to kill the other, but in killing the other he might get caught. There was danger, and now he could not take any risk because the whole treasure was in his hands.
He managed a very cunning way. He disappeared and spread the rumor that he had been murdered, and he left all the evidence that would prove that his friend was the murderer. The friend was caught with all the proofs: his revolver was there; two bullets were missing, and his fingerprints were on the revolver. His handkerchief with his name embroidered on it had fallen…. And only he knew the place where the friend was hiding in the jungles against the police, because they had done other crimes also, and there was a price on both of them to be caught alive or dead.
He could not prove his innocence; there was no way – everything went against him. He was given the death penalty. He knew he had not murdered his friend; he knew that this whole thing was a plot. His friend was not dead; it was just to keep the whole treasure, that the friend had removed him in a legal way, out of the way.